2014 North West 200 festival launched

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The programme of events for the Coleraine Borough Council sponsored Race Week Festival at the 2014 Vauxhall International North West 200 has been launched and it is packed with exciting activities for every race fan.

The week long festival will be given a spectacular two wheeled start of a more sedate variety as the superstars of the Giro d’Italia visit the North Coast on Saturday May 10. Local cyclists who have been inspired by the sight of the world’s biggest names in action can sign up for a lap of the famous North West course on Sunday morning at the Dunluce Centre.

‘Up to Speed’, a special exhibition highlighting the wonderful history of the famous 85 year old motorcycle race, will be hosted by Ballymoney Museum throughout race week and there will be displays of vintage bikes and other veteran vehicles at the Paddock each day.

The race action begins in earnest on Tuesday, with roads closing at 9.15am for the opening practice session and some of the top riders will still be on duty late into the evening as they judge the Miss North West contest in the Hospitality marquee. The marquee will host top acts such as the Untouchables, The Clubsound Show, Dave Taylor and the Soulshakers and Klass throughout race week.

The hearts of thousands of women will be set aflutter on Wednesday night when Nathan Carter appears in concert in Portrush. Any guys who are feeling a little left out can console themselves on the Paddock walkabout or by marvelling at the talents of Chesca Miles, the UK’s top female stunt rider, who will headline the spectacular Family Motor Fest on the East Strand.

Thursday sees the start of race action with Supersport, Supertwin and Superstock races being run in the evening following the day’s final practice session.

After admiring the skills of the world’s top road racers you can check out your own ability on two wheels with a free assessment from the BikeSafe NI team who will have a stand in the Paddock throughout the week. 

Over the past few years the Meet the Riders event in Coleraine town centre has become one of the highlights of the North West 200 with all of the race’s top stars like Guy Martin, John McGuinness and William and Michael Dunlop on hand to sign autographs and have their pictures taken with race fans.

A free outdoor concert at the Crescent in Portstewart by Status Quo tribute band, Matchstick Men, on Friday evening will have everybody rocking before the huge fireworks display brings the night to a spectacular close.

Race day will dawn bright and sunny- it has to this year!- with roads closing at 9.30am for a full day of blistering race action around the 8.9 mile Triangle circuit. The race programme includes Supersport, Supertwin, Superstock and two Superbike races, including the feature event that will see the winner crowned as the champion of the 2014 Vauxhall International North West 200.

If you have any energy left after all of that you can bring the curtain down on the action at a special ‘Speed Sunday’ event at Shackleton Barracks in Ballykelly, which will be packed full of special speed trials and displays.

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Stephen Davison

By Stephen Davison

Biographer of John McGuinness & road racing's foremost writer & photographer